What to Expect in an On-Site Interview

Dana Guterman
Updated: July 24, 2020

For many students, an internship interview is their first interview experience ever. So, when you get that all-important email offering you an interview slot, you might have mixed emotions. Sure, you’re thrilled, but you’re also nervous: What should you expect during your interview? And how can you prepare?

Interview basics

First of all, let’s define an “interview.”

An interview is a formal meeting. If you’re doing an on-site interview, it’s a face-to-face meeting.

Typically, you’ll meet with one interviewer for your initial interview, but there are also panel and group interviews. You can learn more about phone interviews, during which you “meet” with someone via phone, here.


What should you expect in an interview?

The interview process varies widely from company to company, but you can still prepare by doing your research in advance. Generally speaking, the interview process for an on-site interview will include the following:

1. Pre-interview communication.

Once you send out your resume, cover letter, and any other important application materials, you’ll either hear nothing, or you’ll hear from a recruiter or hiring manager. They might ask for some additional information or work samples. Then, if they like what they see, they’ll start the interview process.

Many companies begin with a phone interview to pre-screen candidates, while others jump right into the on-site interview. Either way, the interviewer will work with you to find a date and time for an interview. You’ll want to prepare effectively by asking the right questions and bringing the right items.

2. The interview itself.

Most on-site interviews follow a similar structure.

First, you arrive at the office location, check in at the front desk, and share why you’re there. Then, you wait for the interviewer. Once they’re ready, they’ll come out and greet you, and then escort you to the interview room.

After a debrief, during which the interviewer tells you a little about themselves and about the position, they’ll start asking questions. Every interviewer asks different questions, but you can prepare by reviewing essential interview questions, as well as common behavioral interview questions. Scroll down for a list of frequently asked interview questions.

3. Wrapping up the interview.

The interviewer will likely wrap up the interview by asking, “Do you have any questions for me?” You can then share the various questions you’ve crafted in advance. Be sure to ask about next steps if the interviewer doesn’t offer that information.

Sometimes, after the interview, the interviewer will give you a tour of the office or introduce you to other people.

4. The waiting game.

Now, you wait. Write your thank you notes and be patient. If you don’t hear anything after one or two weeks, reach out. If everything went well, you might be invited to additional interviews. Or, best-case scenario, you’ll get an internship offer!


What are the most common interview questions and answers?

We have plenty of guides for interview questions and answers, including guides to teamwork, leadership, and time management questions. Here are some frequently asked interview questions to get you started:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?
  • Tell me about a difficult experience or conflict you had at work. How did you deal with it?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
  • How would your colleagues and manager describe you?
  • Why should we hire you?

And that’s it for the interview basics!

Want to learn more about how to prepare for your internship interview? Check out our guide to internship interview preparation.